Game 11: Michigan vs. Stanford Recap

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 68, Stanford 65. Beilein presser. Player presser. McGary injury update. Box score.

It wasn’t pretty but it was a win that Michigan needed badly.

Several of the same problems that have plagued the Wolverines this season were present once again but Michigan finally found a way to win a close game down the stretch. The Wolverines let another lead slip away late, struggled to defend in transition and were forced into a nail biter despite seemingly controlling the game from the opening minutes.

Michigan took the lead with 14:42 to play in the first half and would never give it back but never pulled away. The Cardinal managed to hang around just close enough and cut the lead to a single possession twice in the final minute of play despite trailing by double digits with 7:30 to play. With the game on the line, Michigan’s most experienced players answered the call down the stretch. Glenn Robinson III drove the ball from the high post for a layup and Nik Stauskas buried a pair of free throws to seal the win.

The win won’t eliminate Michigan’s faults but the Wolverines finally conquered some adversity to hold onto a victory down the stretch. The Wolverines were shorthanded without Mitch McGary and beat a good Stanford squad on a ‘neutral’ court in Brooklyn. Considering it was just Michigan’s second win over a team with a winning record this season, the result was a positive step in the right direction.


Michigan managed 1.05 points per possession, its least efficient offensive output in a win this season, thanks to timely shooting and a lot of free throws. Michigan gave the ball away on just 12% of its possessions but struggled with its perimeter shooting, going just 8-of-27 from long range. While 52% of Michigan’s field goal attempts were from 3-point range, it was still aggressive attacking the basket. Michigan attempted 26 free throws and was 13-of-25 (52%) from inside the arc. That’s not the mark of a team that just fired up threes but the offense was very reliant on the secondary break. The box score credits Michigan with just four fast break points but the Wolverines were undoubtedly at their best pushing the ball and exploiting Stanford in unsettled defensive situations.

Stanford scored 1.01 points per trip and while there were certainly flaws with Michigan’s defensive performance, there were also some positives. The Wolverines dominated on the defensive glass, rebounding over 80% of Stanford’s misses and allowing just seven second chance points. The Cardinal shot 40% from three-point range but only attempted 10 triples. The Wolverine defense struggled much more with Stanford’s interior attack. The Cardinal scored 34 points in the paint and forced Michigan’s big men to be whistled for 14 fouls. Stanford attempted 18 free throws in the second half, compared to just two in the first, and those freebies almost enabled a comeback. Chasson Randle scored 18 points in the second half after going scoreless in the first and the Wolverines didn’t have an answer for his penetration.

There’s no sugar coating it: Michigan needed this game. It wasn’t a great performance but it was good enough and provides a valuable opportunity to build some momentum. With Holy Cross next weekend and then a critical trip to Minnesota before a couple more winnable conference games, the Wolverines will need to build on this win and try to start Big Ten play with some victories before the conference schedule heats up.

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Player Bullets:

  • Glenn Robinson III: Things are slowly starting to click for Robinson. He’s getting the ball in spots that he’s comfortable more often and he’s making plays. He set the tone early with his aggressive offense and had a huge isolation drive at the top of the key when he was forced to play the five spot in the final minute. He grabbed six rebounds (2 offensive), handed out two assists, grabbed a steal and didn’t turn the ball over. obinson handled the ball more than he has this season and looked very comfortable pushing the pace off of defensive rebounds. The 4-of-8 free throw shooting was the only major complaint in his 17 point effort.
  • Nik Stauskas: Stauskas was very effective attacking and driving against the Stanford defense. He forced some jumpshots at times but that aggressiveness was necessary as Michigan’s offense seemed to stagnate at times. A couple times he even held his own against much bigger Stanford players on the low block. His shooting from the floor was a bit off but he carried Michigan in the second half with 14 points.
  • Zak Irvin: It’s very difficult to decipher ‘good shots’ and ‘bad shots’ for Zak Irvin. His ability to create space for his jumpshot at virtually any point on the floor is both a gift and a curse – and he doesn’t usually shoot better on open shots. Irvin’s 12 points on 4-of-9 (4-of-8) shooting and six rebounds (2 offensive) were a huge boost off the bench. He looks significantly more confident than he did a month ago and is slowly starting to grow into his own. He needs to fire away with no conscience when he’s on the floor because that’s his game and that’s what he can bring to this team.
  • Derrick Walton: Once again, Walton never quite looked comfortable. He fumbled a fast break early on but did knock down a pair of jumpers in the second half. The bottom line is that Michigan needs more than 1 assist from its starting point guard. Albrecht only had two assists in this game but Michigan needs Walton to continue to grow into his role – and quickly.
  • Caris LeVert: LeVert struggled with his shot (0-of-7) both inside, where he was often blocked at the rim, and outside (0-3pt). He made up for his poor shooting night with some other nice plays. He handed out five assists (doing a great job in the middle of the 2-3 zone), had a huge chase down block late in the second half, picked up two steals and four defensive boards.
  • Jordan Morgan: Jordan Morgan battled and without him Michigan doesn’t win this game. Morgan’s role has been reduced but he was ready to go with McGary sidelined and Horford on the bench with fouls. He still had some patented Morgan-plays – rebounding his own missed layup for a putback – but he was very tough inside and helped Michigan on both ends. He took a charge, grabbed six rebounds and scored eight points.
  • Jon Horford: Horford was whistled for five fouls in six minutes. He picked up two fouls (one on each end) early in the game by putting both hands on the back of a Stanford player and shoving. He had a great assist against the zone late in the second half but wasn’t able to stay on the floor long enough to make a major impact.
  • Spike Albrecht: Spike had a great assist along the baseline for a dunk against the zone and also hit a huge three with 7:30 to play. He had a quiet night and also failed to pick up his man in transition after Robinson’s basket to stretch Michigan’s lead to four points in the final minute.
  • Max Bielfeldt; Bielfeldt was thrown into the fire and was clearly overmatched but helped on consecutive defensive stops in the second half: getting fouled going for a defensive rebound and forcing at travel providing help defense.
  • Kam

    Walton has really struggled. Someone told me when they watched walton in high school he seemed overrated and just dominated because of weak competition. i am NOT saying i agree with that by any means.. His career just started. What i am saying however is maybe its taking him longer to get adjusted to the college game because he played against much weaker comp.. I remember he played in a pretty poor to average Detroit league. There are flashes where he looks like a good defender and a great passer but its obvious he struggles with being comfortable and consistent. Oh and we won! GO BLUE

    • I don’t know that it’s the competition level in high school. That might not help but he played against some great guards on the AAU circuit and played well.

      • Andy Silverman

        I don’t comment much, but i think our expectations for Walton may be a tad high, especially 10 games into his freshman season. The transition from high school to college is hardest at the point guard position and JBs offense is especially complex.

        For comparison, here’s Darius Morris’ stats through the first 10 games of his UM career: 23 min, 4.3 pts, 39% 2pt, 19% 3pt, 2.2 ast, 1.8 TO.

        Walton shows great potential and just needs to develop a feel for the game at this level.

    • Chris

      Walton’s play has worried me a lot more than anything else going on with this team. I can’t remember a single game this season where he really stood out except for exhibition play. If he can’t find his footing we’re in for a long season. Glad we finally got a W against tougher competition.

      • AlwaysBlue

        I have mixed feelings. JB’s history and basketball mind will make him adjust to Walton’s understanding of the offense just like he made adjustments to Morris and Burke’s abilities. I don’t think the PG has to be the leading decision maker in a JB offense but he does have to be able to knock down the shots he gets. If Walton can do that, I like him better on the defensive end than Spike.

    • umnyc

      Walton’s inability or lack of confident in running the break is baffling and frustrating. There were at least 2 or 3 break opportunities when he opted to hold the ball at the top of the key instead of driving to the basket. I really hope that skill set is there and just needs to be tapped into.

      • The skillset is there. I loved his transition ability in high school but I think he’s just lacking confidence at this point.

  • Wayman Britt

    Whew, got a win that’s nice. UM played good defense in the first half, but has to learn how to play defense in the last 6 minutes of the game. They just make it too easy for their opponents to score.

  • Mattski

    GRIII’s late drive, Spike’s fantastic pass, and Caris’s block. Those were the plays of the game for me. Watching Chasson sashay through the D, on the other hand. . . shades of PSU last year.

    • Mattski

      Refs were frustrating in this game. Curious how it looks to people who re-watch.

      • ChathaM

        Does anyone know of a resource where the game can be re-watched? I only saw the final 12 minutes, and that was from the grainy “first row”.

        • rlcBlue

 has been pretty reliable – though I don’t know if Fox will be more pissy about it than CBS, ESPN or the B1G Network.

    • Mattski

      I like Beard’s piece on the game. Although he notes that Stanford scored on 10 of their final possessions, he’s very positive about the outcome and effect going forward:

      Curious how people who watch it again see the refereeing. Did our bigs really deserve all those calls?

  • MAZS

    My biggest confusion about Walton is the pass first reputation he came in with—particularly in the early games. I think he is now trying to be more of a facilitator, but is hesitant and not running the offense in rhythm—not pushing when he should and forcing things on other occasions. But lets not lose sight of the fact that there are things he does well and you can see his skill set and what the coaches see. He is quite fast, strong for a point guard, rebounds for his size, plays pretty good defense and, frankly, shoots a little better from the outside (shot selection aside) than I necessarily expected. It is hard not to like Spike but this team will be better if Walton can find the comfort zone this team needs. Like all teams, without solid point guard play, we won’t get to where we want to go.

  • Lynette Gascoigne


  • ChathaM

    The most important takeaway for me is that this game illustrates how the program has changed over the past few years. The depth behind McGary, and the fact that UM doesn’t have to rely on their freshmen to be studs, is what allowed them to win this game. I’m sure it’s been difficult for Morgan to see his playing time dwindle, so to be able to play with passion and effectiveness when needed is very impressive. Big picture; to beat a good team without McGary is a really good win.

    On a more game-to-game basis, a big positive is that Stanford only had 5 offensive rebounds on 26 missed shots. It’s a great sign when a team is able to immediately correct a recent problem.

    On the negative side, it’s not a good sign when your opponent, down the stretch, basically says “We’re taking it right to you, and you can’t stop us”, and they’re proven correct. Not only did Stanford score on 10 of their final 12 possessions, they consistently did it in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. The worst defensive possession was after Robinson extended the lead to 4, and Randle went coast-to-coast for the layup and the foul. Nobody stopped the ball above the 3 point line, then Caris and Irvin both stepped out of Randle’s way on the drive. To cap it off, Irvin put two hands on Randle’s hip and fouled in the softest possible way as Randle finished the layup. Unreal.

    Walton and Irvin seem like typical, talented, college freshmen. They’ll make plays that show their potential from time to time, but they’re also prone to puzzling breakdowns and get caught up in the pace of the game. I think we just have to be very patient with them. They frustrate me at times, but I wonder if I’m just spoiled from watching the recent freshmen years of Burke, Robinson, and Stauskas.

    • ZRL

      Yep, Caris and Zak have a lot of potential on D but they lack defensive awareness down the stretch right now (granted Spike was at fault on that play as well). The game winning shot against Charlotte also comes to mind.

    • guestavo

      We have 3 19 year olds in our rotation with Caris, Levert and Walton. They will grow with more reps. We will be fine. I love the lateral quickness Levert showed to get that charge in the first half. I wish Irvin attacked the rim more often and wasn’t as gung-ho.

      • rlcBlue

        Actually, the three 19-year-olds in the rotation are LeVert, Irvin, and Robinson, who turns 20 in a couple of weeks.

        Walton is only 18 and won’t celebrate his birthday until the Final Four.

        • guestavo

          Even crazier.

    • guestavo

      Also, Stauskas wasn’t very good freshmen year, outside of his hot start in non-conference play and one game in March.

      • MAZS

        Get real

        • guestavo

          It’s the truth. He feasted on weak competition.

          • David

            Yeah, I hate it when a freshman who was, at best, the #3 offensive option, finds a way to score in double figures in 15 of 20 conference games, including the 2 BTT games. What a stiff.

          • guestavo

            Trey Burke and Tim is a luxury Walton does not have compared to those freshmen. Nik’s numbers in conference show a noticeable dip in efficiency. Not to say it was a bad season but it had its fair share of ups and downs.

  • Anthony

    Waltons defense was very good randle had 4 in the first half and 14 when spike was guarding him right now he just needs to be more aggressive attacking the basket.

  • gobluemd16

    Had the luxury of being able to attend the game at Barclays. Before I get into my quick thoughts on the game, I just want to say that arena is unbelievable. Anyone that has had the chance to go, it really is awesome. I recommend going to a game there (Michigan or Bklyn Nets), if you get the opportunity.
    Looking back, the win feels satisfying because we were undermanned without Mitch, and finally got another solid win. The three things I were disappointed with in this game were the defense down the stretch, officiating, and FT shooting.
    Stanford scored on 10 of the final 12 possessions, and got most of those points in the lane or via fouls called on drives to the paint. That was disappointing given last week’s loss to Arizona. The worst play obviously being after Glenn’s basket to put us up 4. Literally zero ball pressure (should pick up at full court and at least make him work for it if you are giving up the easy 2), and we just gave up a straight-line drive to the hoop that took 4 or 5 seconds, plus the and-1. That needs to be fixed.
    I thought the officiating was pathetic. So many touch fouls or nonexistent fouls, and I don’t think this is me being a homer. I posted a link to the full-game so I hope to watch that again and see if my eyes were deceiving me at all, but based on AA Dave’s analysis I really doubt it.
    Lastly, FT shooting. Glenn has gotta do better than 4/8 at the line and Caris missing both of those two FT with 40-45 sec left was huge. Stanford hardly missed a free throw, and we need to do better in that dept. down the stretch if we want to succeed in close games.
    Glenn definitely played well again and Nik was clutch for us late. Overall a good win, but still much to improve on and of course, hope to get Mitch back healthy asap.

  • MGoTweeter

    Very nice win and despite how ugly it was at times there were plenty of positives in this game that hopefully will continue to carry over further into the season.

    Probably the biggest positive was the improved post defense. Stanford did miss some makeable shots around the rim, but their bigs rarely got free for uncontested shots. This was a major improvement over what we have seen against FSU and even Arizona. Morgan was fantastic on D and the wings all did a great job of keeping their bodies solid and forcing Stanford to shoot over them.

    GRIII’s play over the last two games has been a pleasant surprise. Not that we didnt know he was capable of it, but rather it has never seemed like his confidence and his role in the offense aligned much this season. He was certainly as aggressive as we have ever seen and that seemed to carry over to the defensive end as well. More importantly, maybe, is that Michigan as a team did a great job of putting him in spots to be effective. Whether it was in the post, cutting along the baseline, or easy iso opportunities, he got the ball in spots where he only needed to take a dribble or two at most to make a play.

    The only negative that I thought needed mention was the perimeter defense. It has been an issue all year, but late in this game was the frustrating example. I harped on this a lot during the live chat, so I don’t want to spend much time continuing down that road. However, I do feel that Michigan plays off far too much on the perimeter allowing offensive players to easily get their momentum going straight toward the basket before the defender has a chance to slow them down. With the new rule interpretations, once the offensive player gets moving with speed in a straight line it is virtually impossible to stop them without fouling. I think the only solution is to get more aggressive early especially with your body and prevent straight line drives. It will probably result in a few more perimeter fouls but that is a small price compared to giving up the late game run that Stanford had.

  • Chris De Sana

    This statement can be used for more than just GR3.

    Glenn Robinson III: Things are slowly starting to click
    for Robinson. He’s getting the ball in spots that he’s comfortable more
    often and he’s making plays.

    Meaning that coach has been able to land a lot of players that have a multitude of skill sets, and having 3 or 4 guys standing still around the arc while 1 player dribbles the air out of the ball and tries to get into the paint no longer is the best option.

    The more motion and ball movement that gets incorporated into the offense the better our offense will be night in and night out. The more motion and ball movement incorporated into the offense the more we will see the growth of our very young and very talented team.

    In summary coach is to be commended for landing so many versatile athletes that can do more than bang down the open 3 ball, now he just needs to adjust to take advantage of them.